I’m writing this blog entry later than I wanted to. My apartment transformed into a leaky boat for an hour. I awoke from an afternoon nap to hear the sound of rushing water. The lower roof adjacent to one of my windows had its storm drain clog creating a huge backlog of water that found its way through my window. This led to a cascading waterfall into my apartment. Luckily I secured everything before electrocution became an issue, and managed to “fix” the leak issue coming from the roof.
If you’ve read your fair share of sailing books, these names should be pretty familiar to you. If you’re just getting started, these sailors all have a great story behind them. Here they are:
1.) Joshua Slocum – The original solo circumnavigator around the world, Slocum circumnavigated the world by himself from 1895 to 1898 in his wooden sailboat Spray. Oh, and not only did he circumnavigate, he managed to go around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope while he was at it, two of the most dangerous areas in the world for a sailor to cross. His autobiography, Sailing Alone Around the World, is a classic that should not be missed. Just reading about the challenges and issues he faced back then gives you a whole new perspective on sailing today. For his last voyage, Slocum took a cruise up the Amazon River and was never heard from again.
2.) Bernard Moitessier – A legendary French sailor who published a variety of books on sailing and circumnavigated multiple times. What he’s best known for though is his performance in the 1968 Golden Globe race, a competition to see if any sailor could singlehandedly circumnavigate the world nonstop, a feat never accomplished before. SPOILER follows, highlight if you want to see how the race turned out: Moitessier didn’t win, but he’s the one that’s best remembered. He was closing in on the frontrunner and decided he did not want the fame and glory associated with winning. So he turned around at the last minute and headed halfway around the world again to Polynesia. End Spoiler. Two great books to learn more about the Golden Globe and Moitessier are A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols and Moitessier’s autobiography of the race called The Long Way.
3.) Steve Callahan – Steve is not a circumnavigator but his story is an incredible one. In the early 1980s he set sail in a 21 foot (yes, just 21) sloop he designed himself to cross the Atlantic. What happened next is why he’s so well known: during his crossing Napoleon Solo was holed and sank in the middle of the Atlantic. Callahan survived for seventy six days in nothing but an inflatable life raft before he was rescued, spearing fish and fending off sharks. You can read his book Adrift to find out how he survived the ordeal.
4.) Sterling Hayden – Sterling Hayden was a man who had it all. A well known actor in Hollywood, he lived a well heeled life. But he was first and foremost a sailor, he grew up around boats in Maine and crewed various ships. He was discovered by Hollywood after a picture of him was published in the local paper after a regatta. When his wife divorced him and he found himself bankrupt, Hayden blew off the courts and Hollywood by setting sail in his schooner Wanderer for the South Pacific with his four kids in tow. Hayden is a very interesting man who shares his journey and philosophy on life in his autobiography,Wanderer.
Who are some great sailors that you know about? Any good sailing stories that you can recommend? Leave a comment below and let me know!